NEW YORK — A new survey finds that many parents fear their kids aren’t getting the nutrition they need due to their choosy palate. The poll of 2,000 new parents found that 55 percent have a child with picky eating habits who is hesitant to try new foods.
Even worse, a majority worry their kids might not get the nutrients they need because of their fussiness (83%). Two in three parents want their young kids to explore new foods, but it’s no surprise that four in 10 feel stressed when offering foods their children are unfamiliar with.
Commissioned by Gerber and conducted by OnePoll, the study further reveals that 55 percent of parents want to introduce their children to more plant-based proteins, but 47 percent don’t know how to incorporate them into their little one’s diet. Just as many (55%) struggle to find foods that are nutritious, interesting, flavorful, and safe for young children.
For parents struggling to feed their children more diverse foods, the most common barriers include a lack of information about the types of nutrients their child needs (45%), the child’s preferences (28%), and cost (22%). More than half the poll (54%) also admit they don’t know enough about the nutrients available in plant-based foods to feel confident feeding them to their children.
“We hear from parents that they want more plant-based options that align with their food values,” says Gerber President and CEO Tarun Malkani in a statement. “That’s why we want to reassure parents there are more nutritious, developmentally appropriate options available so they can feed their little ones a diverse diet.”
Which foods do children love and hate the most?
Three in five (62%) feel it’s important for their child to explore new foods. Meanwhile, 55 percent think it’s important for their children to eat the same diet as they do. A third of parents surveyed described both their children’s diet and their own as being flexitarian.
Parents also claimed they and their kids share five plant-based protein meals per week. When asked what their children’s current favorite foods are, parents say chicken (32%), yogurt (30%), strawberries (30%), bananas (29%), and fish (25%) take the top spots.
Parents also shared that spinach (23%), beans (22%), fish (22%), peas (21%), and corn (20%) are the “worst of the worst” when it comes to their kids’ tastes. The meals parents and children have explored together include plant-based protein alternatives (39%), different grains and legumes (36%), bread alternatives (35%), citrus fruits (33%), and meals that have been seasoned (32%).
“It can take up to 10 times for baby to accept a new food – so don’t give up,” says Dr. Whitney Casares, Gerber’s pediatric medical consultant and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “For parents looking to incorporate plant-based choices, I advise ‘feeding baby the rainbow’ from a variety of foods (whole grains, fruits, veggies, meats, fish, legumes, etc.)”